Imbibe Hour

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Imbibing in Romania... after leaving the Magyars..

After spending some time in Hungary, Romania went by with a blur. Most of the time was spent just getting around from place to place hardly with time to settle in. Thus my chances for imbibing were far and few between.

However, I was in Sighi┼čoara and there was a well known landmark. The old medieval village contains many famous sites that are UNESCO sanctioned, one being the house of Vlad Dracul. I am not going to spend details of who this person is cause I am sure you already know, but we were a bit tired and our thoughts wandered to the idea of putting our feet up and just having a drink. There was a place inside, and if we could ignore the Dracula figurine and reference to kitschy vampires that adorned the building we could at least relax and say well... we drank at Vlad's house.

I was told that in Romania you should have Black Beer. Black beer?? I thought? Sounds like a gimmick. What could be so distinctly different or unique about "black" beer? Well... really not much. I discovered on my travels that there were only two types of black beer. Both were literally identical to each other, cream colored heads, dark black in color, weak bodied, macro like produced. Not awful, but nothing truly different or memorable. They essentially tasted like typical Brown Ales without anything remarkable to write about. I was hoping I would be sinking my imbibing chops into something I never experienced beer wise... That... was wrong.

There are two known brands Ursus, and Silva. I suppose the Silva was slightly better not as alcohol palate tasting, but to say it was better than the other or a distinction that I would jump at the chance of ordering... that would be a big who gives a "****". Looking at the pictures the Silva has a lighter head color, if that means anything to you.

Ironically the most enjoyable and down right "whimsical" drink I had in Romania was courtesy of a cocktail that my wife ordered.

While in the Dracul house, kicking our feet up on tables that were too small... having to listen to techno music pumped in from a downstairs basement cafe that sold tiny pastries, we were presented with a menu that consisted of many items, but an interesting "Dracula" inspired cocktail was one that jumped off at us to sit back and relax and well... take in a drink as the rain came down.

Well... this tourist kitsch just doesn't get any more impressive than that doesn't it???

My wife ordered a cocktail inspired Dracula drink known as the "Vampire's Kiss". When my wife first ordered it, our waiter.. a rather young lad of barely 16+ years of age, came by and said sure, however then referencing in his best English then remarked, "I get other person... make it." He was implying that in this mode of sophistication that he could not make such a drink, which made me think he just never tried. He got someone else to do it for him in his panic of handling such a sophisticated production.

Nevertheless, someone else took care of business... while the young apprentice looked on behind the bar, as the older gentleman produced the libation. Not all the ingredients to the drink where disclosed in the menu, when I pressed for more information, I was told the drinks contents..... were a secret.

As I passed by while I consumed our appetizer of polenta I think called "mamaliga" consisting of a memorable piece of giant pork fat back, practically salt pork, we received the drink cocktail to imbibe on pictured here before you.

I must admit this cocktail that was made consisting of simple fruit juice, cheap vodka, and some basic wine, was very creative. There it was adorned with a giant impaling skewer through a lemon, as if blood (the wine) flowed on top hanging there in it's depths while the fruit sat juice sat on the bottom. There was even a flare to the skewer as if it commanded authority from Vlad himself.

Taste. Basic. Vodka, carton orange juice, cheap wine, not exactly high class ingredients, but the combination wasn't one that made you get out your gag reflex. No complaints, nothing sophisticated in palate, but a presentation worthy of applause and it felt like some thought really went in to showing this drink off that many cocktail purists here couldn't even touch. The drink seemed to have more eye candy appeal and thought in to it, then high glass ingredient cocktails I've had back home that looked just boring in appearance.

As we sat and finished our drink, I wondered if there was more I could do to imbibe in Romania.

Well it seemed like time wasn't going to give me that opportunity, or the research needed to find out. I did have some local cheap wine with dinner, but it consisted of a Merlot that was the equivalent of your typical Yellow Tail.

Not much to get excited about, but it will do the job when it's only 7 dollars a bottle (in a restaurant no less.. cheaper in the grocery store even more so).

Still.... there would be more imbibing to do, and lots to learn about when visiting another country I had poor assumptions about when it comes to drink. For the next country on the trip was Turkey... and some things ... just throw you for a loop and surprise you when you think the world Muslim and alcohol which when it comes to Turkey is a very ignorant assumption (Turkey is a secular nation, although pre-dominantly Muslim, however this blog is about the joy of drink, not about divisive politics and/or religion. The point is... the point is moot.). Turkey was a pleasant surprise for imbibing, and note even because of alcohol which yes Ginger... does exist there and is widely available! Guess what.... SHHHH... they even make their own!

Stay tuned...

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